Before it turned into one of the year's biggest crowdfunding campaigns, the Coolest Cooler was a Kickstarter failure.
Creator Ryan Grepper of Portland, Oregon, first launched his Coolest Cooler in November with a goal of securing $125,000. The high-tech cooler incorporated a full-sized portable blender, speakers, LED light under the lid and a bottle opener. But he fell short, finishing with $102,188 in pledges.
"I wasn't far enough along in the design," said Grepper in an interview. "It was the middle of winter, and most people weren't thinking about coolers, no matter what features they had."
So, Grepper tried again, reworking the design and picking the cooler-friendly summer for launch. With 45 days left, the Coolest Cooler has racked up more than $4.5 million in funding on Kickstarter, and could top the $10 million mark set by the Pebble smartwatch.
"I was just so ecstatic," said Grepper after his cooler topped the $1 million mark. "It exceeded my wildest expectations. As an inventor, it was so amazing to have so many people to connect with what I had made."
Grepper says he created the idea of the Cooler because he loved spending time with friends outdoors. "This really was just a passion project."
The second coming of the Coolest Cooler retains most of the features of the original, such as the blender, LED light and bottle opener. It also boasts removable Bluetooth speakers that are waterproof, a USB charger, cooler divider and cutting board, among other options. A minimum contribution of $165 secures a Cooler after funding is completed next month.
Production of the Coolest starts later this year, and Grepper says the first coolers will reach Kickstarter backers in February. Of the campaign's 23,948 backers -- and counting -- more than 20,000 have put in the $165 for their own Coolest Cooler, which means Grepper will be a busy man once funding closes. "I'm laser focused on making sure I can deliver the product that I've envisioned to all these people."
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.